Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Daughter, Friend, Sister, Wife, Small Business Owner

I often find inspiration in other people and their accomplishments, so if you are anything like me, you will find the three ladies featured below very inspiring!  They are all in their twenties, but each has taken the leap to follow her passion and start her own business.  Read on for more about these fabulous, talented women...


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Celebrations of Love - Weddings and Events by Christine
Owner: Christine M. Saxer
Based in Overland Park, Kansas


What kinds of products and services do you offer?
I am a wedding planner, coordinator, and consultant. I also do the day-of coordination. There is a lot that goes into a wedding and having a person there that has done it several times in just the past month is very helpful for everyone involved.

Why did you start your own business?  How did you start?
I started my own company April 15th 2010 because I had been hunting and interviewing for a job after I was to graduate in May of 2010 but there was no luck with anything. So I thought I will pick up side jobs and then run my own company out of my apartment. I had had an internship with a venue and was very familiar with what all went into a wedding and started having my friends ask me to help them with their own weddings knowing just what I knew at that point. I have almost completed my certification to become a certified wedding consultant and have done many many more weddings since that date.

What are the most fulfilling and the most challenging parts?
The most fulfilling is watching the bride enjoy every part of her wedding and dance the night away. There is no telling the amount of joy I feel when the bride says to me "I could not have done this without you and you made everything just the way I wanted; Thank you." The most demanding/challenging part is balancing all of the responsibilities that a small business owner has on a day-to-day basis while doing the part that I love which is the coordinating with the brides.

What is one big thing you have learned?  What advice would you give someone else just starting out?
The biggest thing I have learned about myself is that I am stronger than I thought. What I have learned about the wedding world is that making relationships with a cake lady, for example, can open many many doors to other wedding vendors. Stay positive and many doors will open for you.

If I were to talk to someone just starting out, a piece of advice is that you better really love weddings because it is your life. Your boyfriend, husband or significant other better like hearing about them too. But really weddings never stops so you have to make time to turn off your phone, computer, email etc and relax/recharge.

What are your hopes for the future of your business?
My hope for my future is to have a great group of women that are all as passionate about weddings as I am; to work with all kinds of brides to make their dreams of their wedding a reality in every way they want plus more. I hope that I will convert a bedroom into a gallery of the beautiful weddings that I have done over the many years I will be doing them.

And just for fun... what is the top item on your Christmas list?
My top thing on my Christmas list is for [my newly adopted dog] Maxwell to have a good first Christmas with a family. I know it is cheesy but I really cannot wait for him to wake up on Christmas and open his presents. For myself, umm... I really do not know... a Sonicare toothbrush?

*Full disclosure: Christine is not only super creative and extremely motivated, she is also my younger sister!

Photo courtsey of Ryan Gladstone Photography


Photo courtsey of Ryan Gladstone Photography

Photo courtsey of Ryan Gladstone Photography


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Little Yellow Leaf
Owner: Megan Ibarra


What kinds of products and services do you offer?
I offer custom handmade invitations and stationery.  I will never do the same exact thing twice.  The majority of the business is wedding invitations, and often I will end up doing an entire suite of items after the invitations (programs, escort cards, table numbers, etc.) It's so exciting to see all of the pieces coordinate together in the end.  I have also started doing cards in which I do the design and the client purchases the file to print on their own.  I think it is a good option for those who still like to do a little DIY!  I'm working on an Etsy store for semi-custom invitations and eventually, a few stationery sets.

Why did you start your own business?  How did you start?
I have always enjoyed art, design of all types, and dabbling around on the computer.  While going to school for Interior Design, I found that I enjoyed developing the project logos and design board layouts just as much as the project. When it came time for my wedding in 2009, it was a given that I would do all the paper details myself.  After completing those, I was hooked and had to continue.  I began doing things for friends and prepared sample pieces to represent different ideas and techniques, which served as a learning process as well.  After an unfortunate hit from this economy, the business started as a joint venture with another friend who is a photographer. I have since gone out on my own as Little Yellow Leaf.  I would have never thought I'd have my own little business.  It has all gradually fallen into place.  I've been very lucky in knowing some wonderful people already in the wedding industry, and lovely brides who have passed my name on!

What are the most fulfilling and the most challenging parts?
I'd have to say that I've found two big challenges thus far.  One being finding the connection with each client.  Each one is very different - different style, expectations, some know exactly what they want and some have no idea.  It's my job to pull that information out and make it happen!  I do think that what I learned in going through a design program in school has helped with this a lot.  Which I'm not sure I realized until just now :)  The other challenge is learning time management and how much I can take on, and how long projects realistically take.  There is always something new I come away with after completely each job - it's always a learning process.  As for the most fulfilling part, (warning: cheesy moment) it is seeing how excited a bride or client is when they receive their pieces.  I absolutely LOVE it. I love their faces lighting up, a little screech (think "eeeeee!"), some jumping up and down and even a hug on occasion.  It makes me feel extremely lucky to have that small part in such an important event.

What is one big thing you have learned?  What advice would you give someone else just starting out?
The administrative side of things is A LOT of work.  By far more than I ever imagined.  And I am not one for that kind of organization or numbers.  It's been a challenge, but I have come up with a little system that works so far.  I would tell anyone to do a lot of research and have your business plan all mapped out before you start taking on clients.  And ask lots of questions!

What are your hopes for the future of your business?
I just hope it continues to grow.  As said before - I've been very lucky with knowing people already in the industry who have been so supportive and helpful.  Along with my dear husband (who has been stuck with me on an evening or two of rounding corners or cutting ribbon) family, and friends.  I get asked a lot if I will go full time with this.  I always answer that if I am successful enough to be able to one day do this part time - I'll feel very accomplished! I get giddy over weddings and special events and having a little part in them makes me feel pretty great. :)

And just for fun... what is the top item on your Christmas list?
Sadly, I actually had to think about this!  My mom would probably never believe this, considering I had a 2 page list by Thanksgiving when I was younger.  It might be a tie between unrealistically getting our kitchen cabinets painted (ok, and maybe a new counter top too) and a YUDU screen printer.  I'd love to offer screen printed invites someday!





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Samantha Louise Jewelry
Owner: Samantha Louise Larkins
Based in Denver, CO


What kinds of products and services do you offer?
I have a small collection of one-of-a-kind and limited production jewelry that is available to stores and individuals nationwide, but the biggest part of my business is custom design in which I collaborate with clients to design jewelry that is special and unique to them. Through this process, I create loads of wedding jewelry, engagement rings, etc.

Why did you start your own business?  How did you start?
I started my own business because I wanted to pursue a passion for creation... what I didn't know in starting the business was I would actually get a MBA in the process.

What are the most fulfilling and most challenging parts?
I have been blessed with the opportunity to be a part of the happiest and most memorable moments of people's lives by creating jewelry for a wedding, special anniversaries, graduations, etc.  It is amazing to be a part of those experiences.  The most challenging part of running my own business is the sales side.  I have truly operated under the "if you build it, they will come" mentality and have learned quickly that no matter how beautiful the jewelry, it takes strategy and drive to get them to come!

What is one big thing you have learned?  What advice would you give someone else just starting out?
My biggest advice would be to get advice!  I didn't even know the things I didn't know, but in the last 4 years I have assembled a group of people that have the answers and I am not afraid to ask them for help.  They are friends, teachers, shop owners and family...it is because of their direction and advice that I am able to pursue my passion.

What are your hopes for the future of your business?
My biggest hope for my business is that I can continue to balance all that it demands of me alongside my duties as a mother, a wife and a friend.  Running a small business never ends and it is often hard to shut the door at the end of the day like you might be able to if you had a corporate position.  Being a business owner becomes intertwined in your identity very quickly.  I hope that my business can succeed and grow without sacrificing the other part of my identity that I hold so dear.

And just for fun... what is the top item on your Christmas list?
This might sound crazy but I really want a new vacuum cleaner... I have two big dogs and I have burned through 2 vacuum cleaners in the last 2 years because of their hair... I am looking for the deluxe of all vacuum cleaners... any suggestions on what kind to get?????





*Melissa's note: I was lucky enough to receive a set of pearl earrings and necklace created by Samantha Louise Jewelry as a bridesmaid gift.  Each bridesmaid in the wedding party had a unique, customized necklace that varied in length and the size of the pearls used, giving a modern twist to a classic look.



I hope you will check out what these ladies have to offer!  Though they all have ties to the wedding industry, their products and services are also perfect as we head into the holiday season.  If you need help party planning, creating invitations or holiday cards, or finding a gorgeous piece of jewelry for a gift, get in touch with these talented women. They truly have enthusiasm and passion for what they do!

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